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MSNBC news writers and producers seek to unionize with WGA East

Wendy Lee, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Writers and producers at MSNBC and Peacock news commentary channel "The Choice" are looking to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East.

The 315-member bargaining unit, which would include writers, producers, booking producers, fact checkers and planners, sent a letter to their employer seeking voluntary recognition of their union.

The MSNBC group said it organized in part because it wants to "guarantee diversity" at all levels of production in the newsroom and to ensure that all employees receive fair pay and opportunities for career development.

"At a time when journalists and journalism itself are under siege, we want to join our peers who have paved the road before us in standing up for our rights," the bargaining unit said in a statement. "We are calling on the network to recognize our union and we are looking forward to constructive negotiations over the issues that are important to all of us."

In a statement Friday, MSNBC said the matter should be settled through a secret-ballot election supervised by the government.

 

"I respect our employees' right to decide whether they want to be represented by a union, and I believe our employees should be able to make such an important decision through a standard election process," MSNBC President Rashida Jones said in a statement. "It is important to give everyone who would be included the chance to understand what this would mean before making their choice."

The MSNBC workers' bargaining unit would join more than 7,000 members of WGA East.

"They join thousands of their colleagues in the news and entertainment industries who recognize that collective bargaining is the most effective way to win a voice at work and to build sustainable careers," Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said in a statement. "We hope and expect MSNBC to remain true to its commitment to progressive values by respecting its employees' decision and recognizing our union promptly."

The union has been organizing more entertainment and editorial employees. In 2019, the staff at Hearst magazines, including writers and other employees at Elle, Cosmopolitan and Men's Health, voted to unionize. That same year, workers at podcast company the Ringer also unionized with WGA East.

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